Sport Golf

Sunday 26 February 2017

Els urges McDowell to stop and smell Major roses

Bernie McGuire in Munich

Two fellow US Open winners along with a double Augusta National champion have expressed the view Graeme McDowell should simply let his Pebble Beach triumph soak in.

The trio are Ernie Els, winner of the 1994 and 1997 US Open and third to McDowell last Sunday, 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell along with Germany's Bernhard Langer, who captured the Masters in 1985 and 1993.

Els arrived in Munich for the BMW International Open, which starts today, looking drained after the flight from California, so much so that he's taking a fortnight's break from next week ahead of the British Open.

"You have to take you hat off to Graeme as he played wonderful," said Els. "He played nice and steady. But you know, I wasn't the only one that had chances. I played with Phil (Mickelson) and he also had chances, as did Tiger (Woods) and a lot of other guys. It came down to the win and I'm a little disappointed, but it was a good tournament," said Els.

"Graeme should enjoy his victory and let it really sink in. He's got the wonderful opportunity now to kick on and to work out where he wants to go from here.

"I've heard he's going to play more in the States and that's not a bad idea as he has a house in Orlando, so he can play both tours. Also, being in the world top 50 really doesn't make it all that difficult to play both tours."

Campbell brilliantly kept Woods at arm's length to become only the second New Zealander to capture a Major in winning at Pinehurst. And while Campbell's game has since deserted him, the Maori golfer endorsed those comments of Els.

"Graeme has just got to enjoy the moment and enjoy being US Open champion for 12 months," said Campbell. "He also shouldn't try to put too much pressure on himself. That was a mistake I made.

"But then Graeme's win was fantastic as he had strong challenges from all quarters, including Greg Havret, Ernie and Tiger.

"Any time you win a Major with Tiger in the field is always very special and I have to say Graeme has always struck me as having the pedigree to win a Major. He's got so much experience under his belt and he's also a good lad. It's just so nice to see a new face win a Major."

Langer has returned home still keen to capture the only major German title to have eluded the 52-year-old.

Success in the US Open also eluded him, with his closest finish of fourth in 1987 at the Olympic Club, but with two Augusta green jackets in the wardrobe and 71 other tournament wins appearing on his CV, Langer's advice to McDowell could be very timely.

"My best advice to Graeme is not to be tempted to chase the dollar and compete in 30 more events or whatever," said Langer.

"He should just stay focussed on what he wants to do. He's got a Major title under his belt so he should enjoy it and focus on winning more Majors.

"But it was fantastic and a phenomenal win for Graeme and I am very happy for him and for the European Tour, what with Gregory Havret finishing just one shot behind."

In the absence in Munich this week of McDowell and fellow Pebble Beach colleagues Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Gareth Maybin, it's left to six other Irish to challenge for the €2m event, with Paul McGinley, Shane Lowry, Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Simon Thornton and Michael Hoey all looking to take Nick Dougherty's title.

BMW International Open,

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Irish Independent

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